Abu Dhabi Grand Prix - selected driver quotes 01 Nov 2009
McLarens Lewis Hamilton on how brake issues ruled him out of the running; Red Bulls Mark Webber and Brawn GPs Jenson Button on their dramatic fight over the last laps; and Sebastian Vettel on ending Red Bulls season on a high with his dominant victory. The drivers and team personnel review Sundays race action
Sebastian Vettel (1st):
That was a fantastic race. We had a very good start, it wasnt good enough to overtake Lewis, but I was surprised I was so close to him. Then, when Lewis (Hamilton) was on the long straight, he pushed a button and disappeared ahead, but I was able to stay close. We knew we were a little bit heavier and we were always able to catch him up, especially in the last sector. The car was a dream today. There was a lot of pressure, I nearly went a bit wide in the pit lane entrance during my first stop and then there was the scary exit through the tunnel, but I was on the limit and it was enough to get past Lewis. Unfortunately he then had to retire, but up to that point it was a fantastic race with him. After that I had a little bit of a cushion to Mark (Webber) and Jenson behind and I was able to pace myself, but the car was fantastic until the end. It worked brilliantly on both tyre compounds and it was a pleasure to sit in the car this evening. To sum up the season, what can I say? I would say up and down, we are currently very strong and have just gained our fourth one-two finish, so congratulations to the team. They have been pushing a lot, working very hard back in the factory. Its a shame now that the season ends, as we are on a roll! Its just perfect to finish the season in this way on such a high.
Mark Webber (2nd):
I made a pretty good start and had a bit of a look on the outside of Sebastian, but I knew I had to get back on the inside and get a good exit, as it was a long run down to Turn five. My car got hit quite hard on the left rear after the first corner and I was worried about a puncture. My race engineer, Ciaron, told me the tyre had enough pressure and I was relieved. It looked like Lewis was struggling a little bit in the first few laps and Sebastian and I were able to get a bit closer to him than we expected. Things then started to stabilise and I was pretty happy on the prime tyres. Sebastian was a bit quicker today in the second two race stints, especially the last one. I didnt have much of a feeling on the option tyre and it was the same for me on Friday. I was quite slow on that and preferred the stability of the prime. Towards the end of the race, Jenson was able to close the gap to me and I thought this is going to be tight! We knew we had a slight top-speed advantage, but not much and I had to make sure I was accurate with my braking points. We had a good clean fight on the limit and the battle was a credit to how Jensons driven all year. I want to congratulate the team on what they have achieved and thank them for their patience with me at the start of the year when I was coming back from my accident. Its been very enjoyable driving alongside Sebastian this year, Renault has given us a fantastic engine and overall Red Bull can be incredibly proud of what they have done. Its been my best season to date; weve had 16 podiums together; its very good.
Christian Horner, team principal:
That was the most brilliant way to finish the season, by gaining our fourth one-two finish and our sixth win. Both our drivers were supreme today. Sebastian drove an immaculate race and we managed to jump Lewis through good strategy, good pace and good work with the pit crew. Mark also had enough fuel to get Lewis at the next pit-stop - however, that came sooner than expected when Lewis retired. Thereafter both guys were really strong on the prime tyre. Mark lost quite a bit of time with some difficult traffic just before his final stop and then he was struggling a little bit for traction on the option tyre, so Jenson was able to close in. It was a really exciting last lap of the year and Mark did a brilliant job to hang on to second place, so congratulations to the whole team - its been an excellent year. Thank you to Red Bull, to Mr Mateschitz for all his support, to our engine partner Renault and all the people who have worked so hard in Milton Keynes this year for this fantastic result. Weve learned a great deal this year and well come back stronger in 2010.
Fabrice Lom, Renault, Principal Engineer, Track Support:
That's it, the season is over and its time to reflect on what we have achieved. Firstly, I think weve had a very good season: the team is second in the championship, ahead of teams with far more experience than ourselves and we have twice as many points as McLaren or Ferrari. This is a big achievement and I would like to thank Red Bull for the excellent car they made. I also would like to thank the drivers who did a fantastic job, both in and out of the car. I mention the work they did out of the car, because both drivers stayed team members when we had difficult technical and political times with our engine. Our group team effort paid off and we only used the permitted number of engines this year. Sebastian didnt need to use any extra engines, which is a true achievement and he even scored two more wins after he had no fresh engines left. Thank you also to all the guys in Viry and Aubigny for the good engines they have provided us. And finally, thanks to my Renault team who have worked for Red Bull at the races and tests. They did a fantastic job and they can be proud of what we have achieved this year, I am proud of them.
Jenson Button (3rd):
"It was a fun race today and to be on the podium for the last race of the year is fantastic. I've really enjoyed driving here at the Yas Marina Circuit this weekend and Abu Dhabi has done a fantastic job for its first Grand Prix. We expected the prime tyre to be the better tyre in the race but I was struggling for balance especially as the track temperatures started to fall and it became more difficult to get heat into the front tyres. The car felt great when we switched to the soft tyre for the final stint. It really felt transformed and suddenly I had a great front end and could carry more speed into the corners. The last few laps were really exciting and I was giving everything to take second place from Mark (Webber). I couldn't quite make the moves stick and he's a very difficult guy to overtake but it was a good clean fight and we were really on the edge. I'm a little bit disappointed not to get second but it's still great to finish on the podium. I would like to say a huge thank you to everyone at the team in Brackley and at Mercedes-Benz High Performance Engines. It really has been a fantastic year and they should all be very proud of what we have achieved together. It's nice to end the year on a high after what has been a very competitive and challenging season."
Rubens Barrichello (4th):
"We had a pretty competitive race today. The start was quite exciting and I went to the inside at turn one but unfortunately I collided slightly with Mark (Webber) and he took a chunk of my front wing with him. It lost me a lot of downforce initially which let Jenson past but I was able to live with the understeer so we decided not to change the nose and I just pushed as hard as possible. I was quicker than Jenson in the middle stint but it's very difficult to overtake, even more so when it's your team-mate in the same car, so there was nothing I could do to get past him. Still it was a competitive race throughout and a lot of fun so I have to be pleased with fourth position today. It's truly been a great season and I have to thank the team for giving me a car that has been so competitive this year and the opportunity to return to winning ways again.
We've had a great year together."
Ross Brawn, Brawn team principal:
"A strong race from both drivers today and another podium finish is a great way to round off what has been a very successful season for the team. Jenson and Rubens both drove extremely well with Jenson providing a fantastic last lap of racing to bring the 2009 Formula One season to its conclusion. Abu Dhabi has provided a fantastic venue for the final race of the season and the sport can be very proud to have such a stunning facility on the calendar. 2009 really has been an incredible year for Brawn GP. To go through the trauma of the winter months and make it to the first race and then achieve eight Grand Prix victories and the constructors' and drivers' championships in our first year is an outstanding achievement. I would like to thank all our staff here and at the factory in Brackley for their hard work and dedication this year and Mercedes-Benz in Stuttgart and Mercedes-Benz High Performance Engines in Brixworth for the support that they have given us since the start of the year and the powerful and reliable engine that they have provided us with."
Nick Heidfeld (5th):
I am very happy with my fifth place. It was a good race in which I was able to get the maximum out of the car and score four points, which was enough to reach our target for the end of the season to overtake Williams in the constructors championship. After I have been a little unlucky in recent races, this time I was really able to exploit the cars potential. For quite a long period I was able to go at the same speed as the world champions car, the Brawn. The strategy to go for a rather long stint paid off and the track was even more fun when it had more rubber on it. It is a pleasing end to our last season together. It now becomes very emotional. During the last laps I had to pull myself together in order to keep my concentration.
Robert Kubica (10th):
I lost the race in the second stint when I was very slow, while in the first stint I was able to go at quite a good pace, similar to Rubens. The car was working very well. After changing tyres I had no grip at all. The track was getting quicker and I just could not go at the pace of the other drivers. This was very strange. My fight with Sébastien Buemi was quite tough and a bit dangerous. We nearly touched when braking into the chicane. He first moved to the left and blocked the inside of the left hander. When I moved to the right he pushed me over the high inside kerb of the right hander section of the chicane and I spun. He did not leave any space at all. Thanks a lot to the team for the last four years. I hope to meet them back on the grid next year.
Mario Theissen, BMW Motorsport director:
That was once again a strong weekend for our team in the season´s finale. Starting from eighth Nick consistently moved up to fifth thanks to a very good performance. Robert was unlucky three times during the race: After each pit stop he came back on the track behind a slower car, and due to the collision with Buemi he lost one position. But the most important point is that with today´s result we gained another place in the constructors championship. So we ended a very tough season with some strong results. A big thank you goes to the whole team - both here at the track as well as in Munich and Hinwil.
Willy Rampf, BMW Sauber head of engineering:
Our goal today was to score three points more than Williams and overtake them in the constructors championship. This goal was achieved thanks to Nicks great drive and his fifth place. The race was very interesting from a strategic point of view because a one stopper was exactly as quick as two. Therefore the decisive part was at the second pit stop where it was decided who was in front of who. The race was so close today, so it was an absolute must not to make any mistake at all. I want to express my respect for the team in Munich and Hinwil who never lost motivation and continued to push very hard. They all did a fantastic job and deserve this result.
Kamui Kobayashi (6th):
"It was a really good race for me. At the start I overtook (Kimi) Raikkonen and that was important in the end because it would have been difficult to finish in the top six if I had been behind him during the first stint. When I got past I was confident I had the race pace to fight for the points and my target was to be consistently fast. The team did a great job with the strategy and the pit stop which played a big part in helping me finish in the points. I certainly wasn't expecting to be racing in Formula 1 this season and I want to say thank you to Toyota for this opportunity. My target was to finish in the points today but I am a bit surprised to be in the top six. This is a fantastic result and I am extremely happy."
Jarno Trulli (7th):
"It was not an easy race for me. I made a good start and was fighting with the BMWs on the first laps, which was good fun, but I was struggling a little with traction. During the stint the rear tyres were degrading and then later braking consistency became an issue. I was pushing as hard as possible and putting in some good laps to fight for the top six. In the end I was seventh, which is not bad, and for the team the result is pretty good. Obviously Kamui drove really well and I am very pleased for him; he deserved this result."
Tadashi Yamashina, Toyota team principal:
"It was a great result for us to have both drivers in the points in the last race of 2009. Kamui did a fantastic job and we are very proud of him but Jarno also fought hard to get a strong result. This year the team, including everyone back in the factory in Cologne, has done a brilliant job. It's been a tough season but we have ended it in a positive way, so thanks to everyone in the team, as well as our sponsors and fans. I would like to offer my congratulations to the race organisers, who have done a fantastic job to create this incredible venue and also to the new world champions, Brawn GP and Jenson Button, who achieved so much this season."
Sebastien Buemi (8th):
Getting another point today, after also scoring in Brazil, is a nice way to end the season. The entire team has done a great job over the past four races and so I am looking forward to next year. At first, I was having trouble matching Rosbergs pace, but I picked up more and more speed as the race progressed. I lost a bit of time behind Nakajima, but overall I think I did the best I could and it was a great race. My fight with Robert was quite fair, as I think I left him enough space.
Jaime Alguersuari (DNF):
My start was not too bad, but I got a bit boxed in and on the first lap, I made a mistake at Turn 19, losing the rear of the car and going onto the grass, which is when I lost a few places. Then later, I had to stop with a gearbox problem as a couple of gears were disabled, so I decided to pit. But there was a misunderstanding because I came into the Red Bull Racing pit next door as my team was not expecting me. I therefore drove back onto the track and had to retire there when the gearbox broke.
Franz Tost, Toro Rosso team principal:
Another point. Buemi drove his best race of the season, getting a good start and after that the strategy chosen by the team also worked well to get him ahead of Rosberg. His fight with Kubica was an important and exciting moment as he managed to stay ahead. His lap times were very quick and Sebastien produced a very good performance. Unfortunately, we had a gearbox problem on Alguersuaris car when two gears engaged at the same time, breaking the gearbox. Its a shame the season is over, as in recent races the performance of the team, the car and the drivers increased. Now, I hope we can build a good car for next year and pick up in Bahrain where we left off here.
Nico Rosberg, Williams (9th):
It wasn't a terribly exciting race for me today as I just didn't have the pace to do any better. I would have liked to help the team hold on to sixth place in the constructors' championship. From a personal perspective, my seventh place in the driver's table wasn't challenged and I think this was a good result this year in the circumstances. It's been a long season and I would really like to thank all the team for their effort during the last four years. We have had a great time together.
Kazuki Nakajima, Williams (13th):
It wasn't easy running on a one-stop today and I didn't feel that the first stint went well. The middle of the race was more affected by traffic, but there was nothing to do except keep plugging away for 55 laps, but it was a good battle and I enjoyed myself.
Rod Nelson, Williams chief operations engineer:
It was naturally disappointing not to be able to retain our championship position today, but well done to BMW and we will miss them next year. Both drivers competed well today, but the car wasn't quick enough and a few incidents in the race compounded the situation. Losing time behind Trulli meant the one-stopping Kobayashi could get ahead of Nico, which made it very difficult to maintain our points margin.
Heikki Kovalainen (11th):
I got a really good start and managed to overtake some cars. Unfortunately, the performance of my car was not as Id have liked, and the heavy fuel load made it harder to make greater progress - but I was fighting right until the last corner. After my pit stop, my KERS stopped working, which meant I had to adapt the car to perform well without it. Still, after this race we can reflect on our overall season and look at what a great job we did to secure third position in the constructors championship.That was thanks to an incredible team effort. We never gave up, and really turned the tables around. And Im extremely proud to be a part of the team that beat Ferrari in the constructors championship for the first time since 2005.
Lewis Hamilton (DNF):
I had a good start, but I realised early on that something wasnt right with the brakes. After three or four laps, it became clear that there was a problem with my right-rear brake pad, so I couldnt open up the gap back to Sebastian and Mark. When the problem got worse, the team radioed me and told me to stop at the end of the lap. Of course, its a shame that we couldnt show the performance wed had throughout the weekend - but sometimes thats racing.However, I think we can be really proud of our efforts: whod have thought wed finish third in the constructors championship at the start of this season? Its been an incredible year, and now I cant wait for next season to start so I can fight for the world championship again.
Martin Whitmarsh, McLaren team principal:
Lewis drove absolutely superbly all weekend - in fact he drove absolutely superbly all year. Today, though, after just five laps, his right rear brake pad began to show signs of an unusual level of wear - a rogue pad, we think - and as a result we had to stop him for safety reasons. That was an enormous pity, because up to that point hed shown blistering pace every day here in Abu Dhabi. In many ways, therefore, for us, todays race was a disappointing end to a challenging season - but, overall, there are plenty of reasons to be cheerful about it. The team has worked tremendously hard all year to improve MP4-24, which started the year as one of the slower cars but ended it with two fine wins and a string of impressive points-scoring finishes, culminating in a dominant pole position here yesterday. And Mercedes-Benzs engines have been excellent all year.
But perhaps more important still is that work on MP4-25 is already going very encouragingly - its already quicker than MP4-24 - and theres every reason for us to be confident that well be able to continue to develop and improve it significantly between now and the beginning of the 2010 season. Returning to this weekend, though, yet again Heikki was the undeserved victim of bad luck. His qualifying was spoiled through no fault of his own and as a result he lined up 18th for todays race. He made a fantastic start - displaying a perfect combination of aggression and discipline - and passed Kimi at the first pitstops as a result, just as wed hoped he would. Thereafter he stayed ahead of Kimi - which wasnt strictly necessary from a points-scoring point of view but gave us the comfort we needed in terms of the constructors championship - and then adapted extremely well to the performance and balance compromises forced upon him by a mid-race KERS failure.
Talking of the constructors championship, the fact that we beat Ferrari to third place is of course a matter of pride to us, and I want to pay tribute to all at Vodafone McLaren Mercedes for the superhuman efforts they all made in achieving that milestone. Ferrari are always formidable opponents for us, and next year we hope to beat them again - this time for first place rather than third. Last of all, I want to say what a wonderful event the inaugural Abu Dhabi Grand Prix was. Equally, were all very much looking forward to returning to this part of the world in March next year, to kick off the 2010 season in equally fine style in Bahrain.
Norbert Haug, vice-president, Mercedes-Benz Motorsport:
This inaugural Grand Prix in Abu Dhabi was a great venue to finish this remarkable 2009 season.A shame for Lewis, who drove fantastically the whole weekend and then had to stop due to a brake pad problem - he was the class of the field on Friday and Saturday, as his remarkable qualifying lap proved yesterday. Heikki suffered from starting 18th after a gearbox change, and, during the race, his KERS Hybrid system caused a problem, so Heikki had to switch it off after half-distance, and his speed was obviously compromised by that.Looking back at this season, the team recovered brilliantly from our uncompetitiveness in the first half of the season, and Lewis posted four pole positions in the last seven races.On the engine side, we did not have one failure. Mercedes-Benz this year supplied a total of six cars, Brawn GP and Jenson Button clinched both world championships - congratulations again - so that was very positive. Id like to thank everybody in the team at Woking, Brixworth and Stuttgart for all their relentless hard work. It paid off - and it will pay off even more in the future. Finally, congratulations to our German friend Sebastian Vettel and his Red Bull team for a great victory at this inaugural very special grand prix of Abu Dhabi.
Kimi Raikkonen (12th):
We knew we did not have a car that was competitive here. It was definitely not a good weekend, but I dont think any of us have anything to reproach ourselves for. We did the most we could with the package we hard. At the start, the track was a bit slippery and that cost me a place to Kobayashi, who was very quick today. Then, when the two Brawns were back ahead of me, after their first pit stop, our race was definitely compromised and a points finish became impossible. Its a shame to end my time with Ferrari with this result, but this year we have never been in a position to fight for the win at every race, as I would have wished.
Giancarlo Fisichella (16th):
I am disappointed that third place got away from us like this, but today our pace was what it was, as can be seen from my team-mates twelfth place. I tried all I could, as usual and I feel I drove a good race. It was a shame about the drive-through which compromised my second stint. I got a good start and got past Grosjean, who then got ahead of me again, cutting the chicane, but then in his turn, he got by, taking back what I had gained. I am sorry that I wasnt able to contribute to the team in terms of points and to have not really shown my worth. Unfortunately, the F60 is very difficult to drive, especially in qualifying and starting from the back is always a big penalty. Now the time has come to think of the future: I do not yet know if I will get a race drive with a team, but what is certain is that I will be a Ferrari driver and I am happy about that.
Stefano Domenicali, Ferrari team principal:
Its disappointing to see third place in the Constructors Championship elude us by a single point, but we have to accept the verdict dished out on track. We took a strategic decision regarding the development of the F60 a few months ago and we knew that, as time went by, the road ahead would get ever steeper. All the same, I wish to congratulate the entire team who, despite the difficult situation, continued to keep their concentration up, getting on with their work with determination and tenacity. Now we must continue to work on the design of the new car, because we have a very simple aim: that of getting back to being in the fight for race wins. This was Kimis last race with us and again today he gave it his all. We are very disappointed that this year, we did not give him a competitive car and I thank him for never having thrown in the towel, in fact, fighting even harder when the situation was at its trickiest. That thanks extends to all our drivers: to Felipe who went through a dramatic moment in Budapest and is recovering quickly to be 100% for the start of next season; to Luca, who accepted the challenge to put himself in the game in a very difficult moment; to Giancarlo who in order to realise his dream of racing for Ferrari, left a team just as it was going through its best part of the season. Again today, he did his utmost right to the final kilometer. I am proud of our drivers, as I am of everyone who works in our team and I am sure that every one of them will know how to learn the right lessons from this season and will be even more motivated to try and redeem themselves immediately.
Chris Dyer, Ferrari chief engineer:
It was a very disappointing day for us. We knew after the qualifying result that it would be very tough and so it turned out. This weekend we definitely did not have a good enough level of performance and so we were unable to exploit the help inadvertently given us by our adversaries in the fight for third place. Its an unpleasant way to end our relationship with Kimi and we are very disappointed about it. It would have been nice to have given him a good result as a send off to thank him for everything we have done together over the past three years. We wish him all the best for the future, whatever he decides to do. He is an extraordinary driver and we will always have fond memories of him.
Fernando Alonso (14th):
The result today is disappointing as we were not able to produce the performance we wanted. I would have liked to finish the season on a high, especially as this was my last race with Renault. I would like to thank the entire team for everything that we have achieved together over the years. We had some great victories and won championships together. It has been the most amazing seven years of my career and something I will never forget.
Romain Grosjean (18th):
The race today was disappointing. I made a good start but I was blocked several times. I also suffered with some brake problems during the race. Towards the end I unfortunately lost a place to Fisichella, which was a shame, but the performance of the car didnt really allow me to show what I was capable of today. Its now the end of the season and I can say that I have learnt an enormous amount this year, especially being teammate to Fernando.
Jean-Francois Caubet, Renault managing director:
We have to recognise that this has been a difficult year for Renault. From a technical standpoint the year started with confusion, and on the human side we will miss Fernando who is leaving the team. From the political perspective, all the problems that we have encountered this year have been negative for us and for Formula One. But next season is full of hope; we have turned the page and the future is ahead of us. The strategy is well underway, the choice of drivers is close and the technical changes being overseen by Bob for the chassis and Rob (White) for the engine are promising. The sponsors are coming back and even though we are disappointed with our performance in the final race of the season, we know that changes are underway and we are confident for the future. The team is united and full of optimism.
Bob Bell, Renault team principal:
In terms of performance it was a disappointing race for us. Going into the weekend, we had slightly higher expectations, but in the end we just didnt have the pace. In terms of the event itself, it has been fantastic and Abu Dhabi deserves real credit for providing the facilities and for staging a great event, which has been great for Formula One. As a team we are obviously disappointed as we had hoped to end the season on a high, but we are upbeat for next year. We will move on from here and will be back fighting next year.
Remi Taffin, Renault head of engine operations:
The story of the year overall is that we have not been competitive enough. Todays race was difficult again and unfortunately we couldnt fight for points. In terms of the engines, we have not had any issues this year but we are missing overall performance with the car. We will work hard over the winter to come back stronger in 2010.
Vitantonio Liuzzi (15th):
Overall I thought we got the maximum from the car today but unfortunately we had a problem with the brakes more or less from the beginning of the race so we couldn't really fight for positions. I was behind the Williams at the start and one of the Toyotas in the middle of the race so we were pretty much mixing it in the midfield. We had a problem with the soft tyres in the first 15 laps that caused a lot of oversteer so I think it is the maximum we could have achieved. We knew it would be difficult to score points and although I would have liked to get some on the board at the end of the season I am happy we have showed some good form in these five races.
Adrian Sutil (17th):
We had some problems at the start of the race with the tyres and had to stop earlier than expected to change to a new set. The two stop strategy was the right one and the race went okay although we obviously didn't get any points, which was the aim. All the same it has been a very good season, naturally with a lot of ups and downs, but we've gone massively forward from the beginning of the season to the end. I think we can be very proud of this progress.
Dr Vijay Mallya, chairman and team principal:
Of course points would have been a fitting end to the season, but sadly we could not achieve them today. All the same both drivers gave it absolutely everything until the final lap and I couldn't have asked for more. It's been an excellent season for Force India this year and I would like to thank the entire team, both at the track and at our bases in Silverstone and Brackley, for their outstanding commitment and skills that have led to this success. We have achieved our objectives and then some more and can only build on this over the winter into 2010.
Hiroshi Yasukawa, director of Bridgestone Motorsport:
"What a way to end a thrilling season of Formula One racing, with a great battle right to the chequered flag at this fabulous new circuit. Congratulations to Sebastian Vettel and Red Bull Racing for their win today. It has been a pleasure to be part of this exciting season, with so many changes and the return of slick tyres. We must say a big thank you to all of the teams who make this such a great sport which so many people enjoy around the world. Also thank you to all our staff, who work so hard throughout the year. This was Bridgestone's 13th year in Formula One and we saw the 150th GP race win on our tyres. We now look forward to 2010 full of expectation for another exciting and dramatic year."
Hirohide Hamashima, Bridgestone director of motorsport tyre development:
"Today the track continued to improve so we saw lap times improve all through the race. The medium showed very good performance and the soft was very durable, as seen by those making only one pit stop. Overall we are happy with today's performance. The Yas Marina Circuit is a fantastic new track and we have learnt a lot on our first visit. This has been a great year and everyone has adapted very well to the many changes including slick tyres and no in-season testing. We now look to our preparations for 2010, with no refuelling and narrower front tyres."